Monday, January 8, 2018

Knockers, Part 1

I was thinking about knockers over the weekend.

No, not these ones . . .

. . . these ones . . . 

. . . door knockers. (It can be shown as one word or two but appears most commonly as two, so I will do likewise.)

Those above are the door knockers from that wonderful David Bowie film Labyrinth, by the way.  See the scene at:  

My thinking about door knockers was prompted by seeing a pic of a fancy one, which started me looking at some pics of others, which I will share with you later.

Before I do so, come further btw comments (sometimes mundane things can be interesting):
  • As regards the term “knockers” meaning “breasts”, I have not yet found the origin of same. Look at the many variations of the word: knock up is slang for make pregnant; knocked up is being pregnant; knocking shop is slang for brothel; to knock someone is slang for criticising them or killing them; knock off means to finish and can also be a cheap imitation . . . the list goes on.
  • A door knocker is no more than a device that allows people outside the door to alert people inside of their presence by making a sound. This is usually by means of a hinged metal banger striking a plate or the door itself. It can vary from a simple device to a very ornate one.
  • The country with the greatest proportion of doorknockers is England, the miost well known door and knocker in that country being at 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the Prime Minister:

  • When the ancient Romans and Greeks replaced hangings with doors, it became necessary to have a means of alerting those inside to the presence of callers outside. The Greeks had slaves whose job it was to answer the door but the slaves often fell asleep beside the doors they guarded and answered. How to notify them to answer? The Spartans simply yelled out. Athenians used an iron bar attached to the door by a length of rope to rap on the door. The downside of this was that the iron bar also made a good weapon to attack the householder. The iron bar therefore evolved into a metal ring secured to the door by a metal plate, acting as both a knocker and a handle. 
Door knocker and handle, Albania.
  • The Romans adopted the Greek device and spread it to other countries within their empire. 
  • The heavy ring remained until the 15th century but blacksmiths created more elaborate backplates.
Ancient Roman door knocker
  • The Renaissance saw doorknockers become even more elaborate and artistic, whilst still being functional, especially in Germany, Italy and England:
Italian doorknocker, 1530

Venice, late 16th century

Venice, late 16th century

Venice, late 16th century

Early 1600s Bronze door knockers from Northern Italy featuring leaping lions and lion’s head backplates.

(To be continued).

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